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Getting ready for Mariah's big day....which will also be her "under-water debut", if it actually happens. (I'm sure it will. Pretty sure.)





Taking over 200 shots of her to put on her baptism invitations seemed like a good idea until I looked at them and they were all so cute and now I have to pick ONE.

It's almost impossible.

















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Of course there's some like this thrown in for good measure:













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She was still sporting her Princess Leia hair-do from her party the day before, as you can see.






I don't know which is prettier....the little girl in the white dress or those
hydrangeas!!!








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(obviously Mariah is the prettier one....but it's a close call, don't you agree??? How gorgeous are they!!!)

Arissa Turns Eleven...part 1

I love celebrating birthdays!



Even despite all the stress I cause myself trying to plan fabulous parties with intricate details and make the birthday girl/boy feel like a star on their special day....I still just love it.



Once again, Arissa's birthday will get celebrated in 3 parts.


Part 1 was her actual birthday. Grandpa took her and Vanesa out to breakfast, then to the Verizon store where he got her a new phone. She is loving that thing and would not have put it down at all if I hadn't insisted.

Then she spent time at Vanesa's house, then came back to Nana's for a few hours. Played with sisters, loved on Nana. The usual.


Then we had Nana & Grandma over to our house for cake and some gifts.





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Once I set about cleaning the kitchen and the table for the 'party', I figured why not go all the way and I decorated a little. The best way to make any table look 100x prettier is to add some beautiful flowers, so I snipped a few hydrangeas and put them in my fancy vase: a mason jar. :)

I put some old pictures of Arissa up, along with the cake, and the utensils and the gifts:



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I myself loved the old pictures. Watching Arissa open her gifts and eat her cake, at 11 years old, next to all those pictures of her as a baby was so neat to me. Will definitely add this to my repetoire for future birthdays!





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All 3 girls got an American Girl outfit for their doll on their birthday. For Arissa, we got her doll the outfit that Arissa modeled in the American Girl Fashion Show:
























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Remember?











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So cute. :)


It might be possible that I was more excited about the outfit than Arissa was.













Grandma got her some super cute pjs (among other things) that she really loved....look at that face:





















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Eleven candles......















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And no, my pretty paper pennants in the cake did NOT catch fire, thankyouverymuch. :)
















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That little cake was mighty tasty....we may or may not have eaten a piece for breakfast the following day.
























After our celebration, we headed for a 'members only' event at Sea World.



















Which was funny cause we didn't even do any of the 'members only' stuff because the lines were a mile long. Instead we hit our usual hotspots: the bay of play, the beer garden, etc. etc.









It's not every day that we get to watch the Shamu show and stay till the end for the fireworks though, so that was a special treat:















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It was fun.....thank you Arissa for turning 11 and allowing us to celebrate. :)











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family message board

I mentioned before how I rescued this childhood artifact of mine from the hellhole that is our garage, shined it up & gave it a new coat of chalkboard paint & used it for birthday wishes:







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But then it kind of stuck around and has now become our daily family message board of sorts.

I feel like it's kind of ghetto to have it on our porch, but I sure don't want chalk and chalk-dust all over the house so for now, the porch is where it remains.


It's kind of nice though because as I leave for work I do some doodling, and then when the girls leave for school (or Nana's now that summer is here) an hour later they know what to expect for the day.







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And sometimes they take it over completely:





















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See why it's fun and why I don't want to move it back the garage just yet? :)

Dance Recital And...

Yet another recital came and went.


They are not photo-friendly events, cause of the lighting and all the movement.


But I got a few!


Pre-performance:





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Is it just me or do both of them look like their dads a LOT in that picture? More beautiful, girly versions of their dads, but still. Cute.



My other star-studded performer.....fresh out of the salon (aka: our kitchen)& sporting her new bangs!



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Sidenote: There's a cute/interesting story to those bangs.



I don't think even a professional paparazzi could get some good action shots at one of these recitals.


Well, probably my friend Andrea could.

But for me, it's impossible.



Without the flash, it's nothing but a blur of color.


With the flash, nothing shows up because the light doesn't reach far enough.






I managed to get ONE photo where you can at least tell who the people in it are.








It was a perfect storm of:


the sun not being down yet so the room was lit up a little



+

me leaning forward over the shoulder of the person in front of me



+

all of the dancers posing and being still for 8 seconds.








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So there's that, my one and only live-action recital photo that came out worth a darn.







In other news.....





My "boyfriend" was there!



Jesse and I started calling Jaiden (a baby) my boyfriend, but I realize that's creepy and wrong so I gotta find another word for him.


Feel free to submit one if you have one.



"Boyfriend" just seemed to be a good fit though because:


1) I get all giddy when he's around


2) I drop everything and run over to him

3) I find excuses to take him from his other girl (namely, his mom...sometimes his sister or Arissa)

4) I love to hold him


5) He is cute as all get-out, just as a boyfriend should be










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It all started at Drill Team practice, a month or so after we "met" (he was born). I had already oo-ed and ah-ed over him with the other parents, and he was sleeping in his carseat on the floor.









All the girls ran out of the studio to go practice, and the adults followed.









Except for me, I was knitting and was in the middle of a row.



You know how that is.



Anyway, one of the girls ran back in and said to me: "Andrea says, can you watch the baby. Thanks." and ran right back out.




Well obviously I was already "watching" him, in the sense that I wasn't going to let a stranger come in and walk off with him, or if there was an earthquake I would have grabbed him up on my way to safer ground.




But once I was officially asked to watch him, I got kind of nervous! He was so small, and so new. My smallest, newest one is 7 years old....I wasn't sure I remembered what to do with one.



Then, of course, right on cue, he started to cry to get some attention.



Just like a man.




So I gave him his bottle and he was happy (again, just like a man).



But then after the food ran out, he cried again and he, like, wanted something.




I realized I had no choice.....



I stood up.


I picked him up.



I rocked him back and forth.


I patted his little back.












And then it happened.



He let out a burp..... the size, volume, and depth of which I have never heard before or since.




And that was it, our bond was established.



I was there in his time of need, and he repaid the favor by kindly stopping his crying once I had sovled his little "problem".




And it's been true love (albeit my usual kind of true love: one-sided) ever since!







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I love that lil guy. And I will gladly fight Arissa to the death for a chance to hold him everytime he's around. :)




She luvs my little man too...and you know how that goes.






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day for dad



Happy Father's day to my dad who I love so so so much.




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that's us at my 5th grade graduation.



And this is me with my Dad, my Grandpa, and my Great-Grandpa:




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(Guess where that outfit is that I'm wearing, 29 years later.....at my Nana's house in pristine condition of course!)



My Dad is a great man who I can't even start to explain all the wonderful things about him without crying! That is a very frustrating trait I have, I must say. I think about anything emotional and the tears just start coming. Gotta fix that one day.

Anyway, he's awesome and I love him. That'll do.
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Course I couldn't mention Father's Day without mentioning the person my girls will be celebrating.

Currently, on this carefree, beautiful day (today is Saturday as I'm writing this) when he could be doing ANYTHING at all, he is driving Arissa around town to find a birthday gift for her friend, then coming home to make two grilled cheese sandwiches for M&M in 2 different pans because one likes grill marks on her sandwich and the other doesn't.

And on Sunday when I post this which will be Father's Day, instead of going golfing or lazing around as is a father's right on Father's Day, he will be following the girls around the Del Mar Fair because A&M have a performance there.

He is a star.





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In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, Part 3





A friend at work let me borrow a wall backdrop, and even though it was hard to hang up outside, it did make for some cute Star Wars-y photos with Mariah's friends.













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That was the only boy from her class that showed up.





I love how they're standing. You know how it is in 2nd grade....you can't touch a boy, that's ridiculous. Hopefully it stays that way until college graduation. A cootie epidemic or something. I don't know.











Anyways, he was super sweet, and his sister is in Arissa's class and she came too so that was fun.






Also fun, were the party snacks we had:









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To any super-observant people like Jesse who might point out that those are RUFFLES chips: I didn't have enough LAY'S to fill the huge bowl my Grandma provided so I had to mix in whatever else she had in her pantry, which happened to be Ruffles. None of the party guests under the age of 11 could tell the difference. I say it that way because Arissa is super-observant like Jesse, and she could tell. :)













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Are you impressed by my super fancy, one-of-a-kind labels with my lovely handwriting?








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The Yoda Soda was by far the biggest hit. Everyone went back for more.






The cake I ordered was the only Star Wars one available.




It was dark....lots of black and red and it kind of scared me a little so I ordered it but I asked the baker if he couldn't.....pretty it up a little. He didn't understand what I meant, and I don't think he understood why a girl would even want a star wars cake at all. So I asked him to make the frosting white, and just add in some blue here and there.





I threw out the ugly parts of the cake accessories, leaving us with just Darth Vader and whatever the other guy's name is. Their light sabers really light up! I thought that was so cool.









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As always, it takes a TEAM of people to blow out candles.







In this case, it also took a team to get them lit too:






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(You can see Jesse's hand lighting them and Audie's hand blocking the wind)



The "force" was not with them on that one, cause the wind blew them out anyways. But we tried it again, and got 'er done.




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Then, onto gifts!








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Saying thank you:



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More thank-you's:



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It was a sweet, fun party. Very girly, if I do say so myself.






And I think we proved that GIRLS can be light-saber-carrying super heros who battle life-forms from other planets....and they can still look pretty doing it, thankyouverymuch! :)










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6.17



Happy birthday to my sweet baby girl who turns 11 today.


























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I thought about sharing her birth story, but then I realized how usually a child's birth story is only fascinating to the child and the mom. :) But I will say that 11 years ago today I was 7 days overdue with my sweet little cheeky first born.











And apparently a baby can pack on a lot of pounds in 7 days, cause as you may or may not know, Arissa might not be hefty now but on June 17, 2000 she was a whopping 9 lbs 11 ounces. I remember how at the time when I told people her weight, they would look at me in shock or say WHOA! and I, having nothing to compare that too, didn't see what the big deal was.






















Now, having seen lots of babies (my own & others) come and go, I realize how big 9.11 is and I'm proud of that number and that my body didn't just give up halfway through!















































To know baby Arissa is to know and love the hip brace that kept her frog-legged for the first year of her life because of a displaced hip. (Guess who still has that hip brace....my Nana. She keeps everything.) The doctor told us that at worst, she would have to have surgery at age 10, or at best, she'd avoid surgery but not be able to do any kind of gymnastics or cheer leading. But lil baby Arissa didn't like that prognosis apparently and 11 years later she has avoided surgery and is doing the splits and crazy amazing flips like there's no tomorrow. You can't be around her for more than 3 minutes without her doing a flip of some kind. :)












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I could write for hours all the wonderful, special things about her.



Instead I went in search of an old baby picture of her, which there aren't billions of because she was a baby back when we had to walk uphill both ways to school (and didn't have a digital camera yet). But during my search I had so much fun that I got a bunch to put on here.











































This one is a favorite of mine for two reasons....





























The cute lil blue-eyed child with a french manicure that was not easy to do, AND the beautiful blue hyrdrangeas she's sitting by. :)














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Fuzzy head, BIG old cheeks, and that wittle nose.....LOVE LOVE LOVE:



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"Kissy lips".....









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...as popular in 2001 as they are in 2011:







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With Daddy....and a carebear:



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With sister #1:




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And #2:






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Those cheeks!!!





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There's just no one like her and she makes everyone around her so happy.







I hope she has a fab-u-lous birthday....breakfast with Grandpa, hanging out @ Nana's, and a family outing in the evening.





I love this girl.



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